Rap, women cen­ter stage at Gram­mys

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By David Bauder

LOS AN­GE­LES — Rap artists and women have felt shunned by the Grammy Awards in re­cent years. But this year, they both took cen­ter stage.

Child­ish Gam­bino’s dis­turb­ing look at race re­la­tions, “This is Amer­ica,” won record and song of the year on the Feb. 10 tele­cast. It was the first time a rap-based song won both of those awards, con­sid­ered — with al­bum of the year — the record­ing in­dus­try’s most pres­ti­gious.

Kacey Mus­graves won top al­bum and matched Child­ish Gam­bino with four Gram­mys to­tal. A year af­ter many women felt left out of the Grammy tele­cast, they de­liv­ered the night’s most mem­o­rable per­for­mances. The best new artist win­ner, Bri­tish singer Dua Lipa, also cast ma­jor shade on the out­go­ing record­ing academy pres­i­dent.

Lady Gaga and Brandi Carlile won three Gram­mys apiece, and for­mer first lady Michelle Obama was a sur­prise guest at the top of the show on CBS.

Child­ish Gam­bino, the stage name of ac­tor Don­ald Glover, and an­other prom­i­nent rap nom­i­nee, Ken­drick La­mar, both de­clined in­vi­ta­tions to per­form or at­tend the Feb. 10 show. Some rap artists feel the Gram­mys have been slow to rec­og­nize how the genre now dom­i­nates pop­u­lar mu­sic.

Lud­wig Go­rans­son, a song­writer and pro­ducer on “This is Amer­ica,” said back­stage that he was sur­prised the vic­to­ries were so his­toric. Just lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio, watch­ing the cul­ture and see­ing how many rap songs are down­loaded is ev­i­dence of rap’s im­pact.

“It’s about time some­thing like this hap­pened with the Gram­mys as well,” Go­rans­son said.

Cardi B be­came the first solo woman to win best rap al­bum, although Lau- ryn Hill was the lead singer of the Fugees, which won the same award at the 1997 Gram­mys. Cardi B was so ner­vous ac­cept­ing the award that she joked, “Maybe I need to start smok­ing weed.”

She looked any­thing but rat­tled ear­lier, when her ren­di­tion of “Money” was among the night’s per­for­mance high­lights. Janelle Monae de­liv­ered a smok­ing ver­sion of her hit “Make Me Feel”; St. Vin­cent and Dua Lipa’s duet on “Masse­duc­tion” was steamy; H.E.R. turned heads with “Hard Place”; and Carlile sang an in­spired ver­sion of her hit “The Joke.”

Be­ing part of a big night for women was huge to her, Carlile said back­stage af­ter the show.

“I’m a kid from the ’90s and Lilith Fair, you know, and those women were just dom­i­nat­ing those plat­forms,” she said. “They were dom­i­nat­ing those arena and am­phithe­ater stages. They were get­ting record deals. They were be­com­ing record ex­ec­u­tives them­selves. They com­pletely con­trolled the air­waves. They were on the ra­dio. And to watch that back­slide for the last 20 years has been heart­break­ing. Tonight, it gives me hope as a mother of two young daugh­ters.”

/ Photo by Matt Sayles/In­vi­sion-AP

H.E.R. per­forms “Hard Place” at the 61st an­nual Grammy Awards in LA.

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